India’s number of Covid-19 infections crossed 500,000 on Friday, making the country one of only four where the tally has breached this milestone. Fatality and recovery numbers offer some signs that the outbreak is still under manageable levels, although experts warned that this control was fragile and the situation could drastically turn if citizens and the government are not careful.
According to HT’s dashboard of state-level statistics, the total number of infections grew by 18,370on Friday, and 383 new deaths were recorded. In all, the country now has had 509,306 infections and 15,689 fatalities, translating to a case fatality ratio (CFR) of 3.08%.
Nationally, however, the total number of recoveries crossed 295,852and -- on an average over the past week -- for every five people testing positive in a day, four were being discharged after recovery.
In terms of total cases, Maharashtra continued to have the highest numbers – roughly twice of Delhi that has the second-most number of infections. Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh are the other states in top five. The states were ranked similarly if fatalities are taken as a parameter.
According to experts, these trends could determine how the disease peaks, which is likely to be at different periods in different regions. “It will probably start peaking in the next few next few weeks in places like Mumbai and Delhi, but in other areas it may take a little longer time for the infections to stabilise. Herd immunity will take a longer period of time,” said Randeep Guleria, the director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, in an interview to HT.
Guleria said in his assessment the country avoided being overwhelmed by going for an early lockdown, which helped create a gradual rise instead of a sharp surge of the kind seen in some early hot spot countries such as Italy.
But the pace of the outbreak has still quickened. The latest 100,000 cases came in six days, compared to the eight days that it took for the 100,000 cases before that.
“The surge was kind of expected, given our poor discipline in hygiene practices, it was too optimistic to believe that behaviour patterns will change in a few weeks. Masks and hand-washing are the way ahead as social distancing is difficult in densely populated areas, like urban slums,” said Dr V Ramana Dhara, additional professor, Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad.
India’s 509,306cases is next only to Russia, Brazil and the United States – with the last two having crossed a million infections. In terms of absolute number of fatalities, India ranks eighth in the world.
Italy, as an example of where the surge was overwhelming, has less than half the number of infections as India but more than twice the number of deaths. Among the top four, only Russia has been able to mitigate the pandemic more effectively than India, logging less than 9,000 deaths from among its over 620,000 cases.
Brazil has roughly 2.5 times the number of infections as India but more than 3.5 times the number of deaths. The United States, now firmly at the top as the hardest hit by the pandemic, has five times the number of cases (over 2.5 million) and a fatality count that is a whopping eight times higher than India’s.
The US saw a record number of new Covid-19 cases in a single day, with 37,077 reported on Thursday, according to the tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University. Thursday’s tally eclipses the previous high on April 24, when 36,291 new cases were reported across the country.
This, Guleria as well as Dhara, said was a good example of how things can quickly go out of hand if people do not maintain discipline. “The graph that was stabilising in the US is now going straight up, they had [close to] 40,000 cases in a day, the highest single day record. It is a classic example of people not realising their responsibility and whatever gains they had have now been lost,” Guleria said, adding that India must closely watch experiences of other countries to avoid making the same mistakes.
“Unfortunately, there are very few good choices left, and neglecting them would be foolish — look at how the cases are exploding in Florida, Texas and Arizona in the US,” said Dhara, urging citizens to also ensure they do their part.